For more of Kent's Bird & Wildlife photography visit -
Sightings can be Emailed to:
Marc, Martyn & Brendan
Marc Heath - Heathym007@aol.com
Number of species recorded in the valley this year so far = 181
Non Avian sightings
New Years Day Birding
A few of us will be out New Years day in the valley trying to see how many species we can see or hear in a day. Some of us will walk the whole circuit and others will be based at various locations for some time. If you are out in the valley and want to join us, your help would be most appreciated. Please feel free to Email any sightings of interest to us so we can get a complete picture of the birds seen. This year we managed 87 species on January 1st. We will be starting at Grove Ferry from the ramp at approx 6.30am where we will be for a few hours before moving on but you may join us at any point during the day.
Last year we tried for as many as we could within
the valley with Brendan finishing on 160 while Marc
and Martyn reached 159 each. This year no
particular listing was undertaken and the valley
list was behind at the end of May but, the count surged
from July and the year finished on 181. Brendan didn't spend
so much time in the valley this year but still reached his
last year total of 160, Marc reached 164 and managed to
twitch most things. Martyn however managed to reach an
impressive 168 species including two 'megas',
Booted Eagle and Sociable Plover.
Happy 2008 birding to all who read or contribute to this site.
The final day of 2007 and just Alan and I were in the valley today and between 7.00am and 1.30pm we made a half hearted attempt at a day count. We managed a respectable 74 species missing out on some common birds like Bearded Tit, Stonechat, Redwing and Water Pipit but, getting some good ones at the start. The best time was the first 1-2 hours at Grove at dawn. Highlights of the day were, 1 Tawny Owl at 7.30 at Grove, 130 Mute Swans, 1 drake Pintail, 12 Marsh Harriers, 2 Shelducks, 2 Little Egrets and 2 Bewick's Swans. There were 2 ringtail Hen Harriers, 4 Ruff, 1 Pied Wagtail, 3000+ Lapwings, 107 Golden Plovers, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 1 White-fronted Goose and 1 Dunlin. A Bittern showed well in flight from in front of the ramp to Stodmarsh while another Bittern was seen by Graham Mitchell at Westbere. There were also 4 Redshanks, 1 Tufted Duck, 1 Water Rail, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Kingfisher. Westbere was completely devoid of Gulls and all we added there was, 1 Treecreeper, 4 Long-tailed Tits and 2 House Sparrows. Cow Corner only added Rook, 2 Mistle Thrushes and 2 Jays and Collard's had 4 Goldeneye, 1 Skylark, 4 drake Pintail, 2 Little Grebes and 2 Marsh Harriers. At Stodmarsh the highlight were 60+ Siskins in the Alder Wood but no Sign of any Redpolls. The only Lesser Black-backed Gull of the day was at Stodmarsh plus another Treecreeper and another Kingfisher.
(Martyn Wilson & Alan Ashdown)
Not much of a birding day today, more a social gathering, with Norman McCanch already on the ramp when I arrived and we were joined by John Hollyer, Steve Ashton, Alan Ashdown Gadget & Dylan for some excellent conversation, avian, Non-avian & occasionally political. Some birding was also manage with a small list but, with a couple of good quality birds. We had toady, the 4 adult Bewick's Swans leaving a little later at 7.55 plus 112 Mute Swans out of roost. There were just 4 Marsh Harriers, but, 12 Ruff, 1 Kingfisher, 2 ringtail Hen Harriers, 105 Golden Plovers, 60 Snipe and a single Dunlin. Also today were, 2 Shelducks, 1 Kestrel, 1 male Sparrowhawk, 1 Cetti's Warbler, a duck Pintail, 3 Tufted Ducks, 1 Little Egret and the first Common Buzzard for several weeks. Other bits and pieces included all the usual at the feeders plus 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Bearded Tits, 7 Redshanks and 30 Meadow Pipits.
Two Ring-tailed Harriers were observed this afternoon from the Lampern wall at Stodmarsh. A Pink-footed Goose was seen, as well as 3 White-fronted Geese, and Marsh harriers were well into double figures, as i spent an hour with Dylan Wrathall on the Stodmarsh reserve. Dylan had seen a Bittern earlier.
( Steve Ashton.)
Started at Collard's which was alive with duck, coot and gulls. The wind direction meant that many duck were on the close bank obscured from our distant vantage point nevertheless I was able to count 124 Tufted Duck, 35 Pochard, 4 Goldeneye, 3 Pintail, 990 Wigeon, and 3 Gt-cr Grebes. There were around 1910 Herring Gulls, 132 Gt B-b Gulls, and 1,300 Black-headed Gulls. Alas there was nothing anongst the gull flock to get excited about. A single Pink-foot landed on the lake with Grey-lags and what was presumably the same bird was with 2 whitefronts at Cow Corner. Around 2,500 Lapwings were settled in fields by Collard's. I returned late afternoon with John Cantelo to check out the gull roost at Westbere. However, strangely there were only a handful of gulls present so we quickly scooted round to Stodmarsh for the harrier roost. We only managed 6 Marsh Harriers ( although 10 were reported) and 2 ringtail Hen Harriers. The only other birds of note were 2 Little Egrets that flew to roost at Seaton
I met Marc at the entrance gate at 6.45 and was joined on the ramp by Phil Parker around 7.20. The 4 adult Bewick's Swans left on cue at 7.22 and Mute Swans out of roost totalled 136. We only had 5 Marsh Harriers today and the only other raptor was a Kestrel. A Pochard was on the main pool and there were, 5 Redshanks, 2 Kingfishers, 2 Grey Herons, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 2 Shelducks, a Pied Wagtail and just 3 Ruff. Best bird today was a 2/w Little Gull that flew over the ramp and up the Valley at around 8.15, also at Grove today were, 1 Jay, 3 Stonechats, 3 Great-spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Water Rail, 2-3 Water Pipits, 8 Meadow Pipits and a hen Bullfinch. Marc left at 10.30 so Phil and I joined Brendan at Collard's looking at several thousand Gulls, most on the lake though, were to far to see any interresting birds and the flock in the field was mainly Herring with, several Black-heads and a large number of Great Black-backs. Just 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull was in the roost. Also at Collard's were, 900+ Wigeon, 1 Pink-footed Goose, 4 Goldeneye, 3 Marsh Harriers and 3500 Lapwings.
To add to what the lads recorded earlier, we had 2 Water Pipits, a ringtail Hen Harrier and a Sparrowhawk in the Paddy's Bench/Marsh Hide area of Stodmarsh/Grove today. Also 3 Stonechats and a Bittern at reedbed hide.
(Chris Gibbard & Rik Smith)
At Grove Ferry today 140 Mute Swans left roost as did the 4 adult Bewick's Swans, leaving at 7.20. A Pintail flew west at 7.24 and a total of 11 Marsh Harriers were seen. There were 2 Shelducks, 10 Wigeon, 100+ Fieldfares, 4 Redwings, 9 Redshanks, 8 Ruff and 19 Snipe. The Golden Plover count reached 233 before they all took flight when a Peregrine decided to hunt the pools, there may well have been at least another 100 Goldies. There was also 1 Kestrel, 1 Bittern, 1 Stonechat, 112 Stock Doves and 1468 Teal on the main Pool. A drive over to Westbere to look for Gulls revealed, 3 Little Grebes, 1 Goldcrest, 10 Long-tailed Tits, 4 Lesser Redpools and a Treecreeper as well as an adult Yellow-legged Gull, a probable adult Caspian Gull, 2 White-fronted Geese and 1 Pink-footed Goose plus a Kestrel, 47 Stock Doves and 2 Marsh Harriers. Driving back through to Grove there were 2 'Black' cock Pheasants at Cow Corner,
(Martyn Wilson, Marc Heath, Alan Ashdown, Pete Solly & Steve Ashton)
Visited Westbere late afternoon to check out the gull roost. Good numbers were present with 3,400 Black-headed Gulls, 1,100 Herring Gulls, 35 Greater-Black backs, 3 Lessers, 6 Common Gulls and a single adult Yellow-legged Gull. At least one adult gull showed features of Caspian Gull similar to the first bird on Monday but I lost it when all the gulls took flight. 10 Tufted Duck, a Sparrowhawk and a Treecreeper were the only other birds of note
After we left Stodmarsh, we returned to Westbere and walked down to the Stour. In the fields on the other side of the river were a large number of Greylags (200+), 1 Pink-footed Goose and 8 White-fronted Geese. We also saw a small group of Canada Geese, a pair of Bullfinches and several flocks of Fieldfares plus the usual Great Crested Grebes, Coot, Tufted Duck etc.
(Sue Morton and Pauline McKenzie Lloyd)
The four Bewick's Swans were again present this morning on the right hand pool from Ramp leaving at 7.24, ten minutes before Alan & Seve arrived. Mute Swans leaving for pasture this morning numbered 112 and there were 3 Shelducks, 11 Ruff, 9 Redshanks, 10 Marsh Harriers (4 males), 2 Sparrowhawks, 70 Fieldfares and a Bittern sighted twice. There were 27 Snipe, 3 Stonechats, 1 Grey Heron, 1+ Little Egret, 112 Golden Plovers, 1 Kingfisher and a Peregrine Falcon that was also seen twice causing havoc amongst the 2000+ Lapwings still present as well as 1000+ Teal and the Goldies and Ruff etc. Sue and Pauline were on the Ramp when we came back from Harrison's but, nothing else to add. After Steve and Mike left 5 Pink-footed Geese flew in with 20 Greylags and we also noted 98 Stock Doves, 1 Cetti's Warbler and the usual at the feeders.
Started the day at Westbere, where the ice and gulls had all gone, so it was back to counting duck with 26 Tufted Duck, 17 Pochard, one Shoveler and 4 Gt-cr Grebes. On to Collard's where there were 167 Tufted Duck, 28 Pochard, 6 Goldeneye and 2 Pintail. About 200 Gulls were roosting in the field but there was nothing exciting amongst them. Lapwings which had dispersed in small groups during the cold weather, had returned with 850 at Collard's and 240 at Stodmarsh in addition to the large numbers at Grove counted by Martyn. Sadly the Socialble hadn't returned with them. A Kingfisher and 2 Marsh Harriers were the only other things of note at Collard's. I proceded to do the Stodmarsh- Grove loop but it was generally unproductive with 3 Stonechats, 27 Carrion Crows, one Chiffchaff and 270 Teal on Stodmarsh lake
I arrived at Grove Ferry entrance gate at 6.50 this morning having nearly run over a smart Jack Snipe that was in the middle of the road between White House and the Boat House. The rest of the day until 1.30pm I spent on the Ramp with the company of John Hollyer, Steve Ashton and Norman McCanch and later Gadget then Brendan. Logged from the Ramp today were, 2 Bitterns (1 at 7.05 just in front of the Ramp and another at 9.50 at the back of Green Hide reedbed), 4 Bewick's Swans (2 out at 7.25 and 2 out at 7.43) all adults and 142 Mute Swans out. There were, 2 Shelducks, 1 Peregrine, 4 Marsh Harriers, 6 Feildfares, 11 Ruff, 1 Kestrel and 1 Bearded Tit. A ringtail Hen Harrier was just outside the reserve hunting fields north of Blue Bridge and there were, 20 Stock Doves, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Grey Heron, 68 Golden Plover, 2 Redshank, 1 Kingfisher and the only Geese were a flock of 36 Greylags that flew in at 11.40, then 9 more at 12.36 followed by a further 7 at 12.45. The Lapwing numbers have increased three-fold over night with at least 2400 birds today with more coming in as i left at 1.30pm and also 1 Little Egret was seen as well as 2 Stonechats, 14 Snipe and a full house at the feeding station including, Greenfinch, Chaffich, Blue & Great Tit, Reed Bunting, Robin, Blackbird, Magpie, Starling and Collared Dove.
Not a single piece of ice left in the valley this morning plus it was a bit grey and overcast with a blustery SSW blowing straight up the Ramp. From the Ramp this morning were 3 Shelducks, 2 Pochards, 143 Mute Swans out and 2 Bewick's Swans that flew east past the Ramp at 7.30. A Bittern flew over the Ramp at 7.29 and landed in the reeds just in front of the Ramp then flew back out at 7.53 and flew towards Green Hide and dropped in at the back of Green Hide Pool. A ringtail Hen Harrier was quartering in the Harrison's Drove area showing very little in the way of a rump and 5 Marsh Harriers put in a show. There were 11 Ruff, 5 Redshanks, 2 Grey Herons, 53 Golden Plovers, 18 Snipe, 2 Stonechats and 1 Cetti's Warbler. The later two added by John Hollyer who joined me for some pleasant conversation. A look at Stodmarsh was a bit of a waste as there was virtually nothing except a handfull of Teal and Mallard on the main lake plus a few Black-headed Gulls and just 6 Long-tailed Tits in the Alder Wood. Collard's faired a little better with, 1 Sparrowhawk, 3 Marsh Harriers, 1 Water Pipit, 162 Tufted Ducks, 47 Pochards, 3 Goldeneye and several hundred, even 1000+ Gulls loafing about on the water as well as 250+ Wigeon. Back at Grove the only additions were, 1 Kestrel several Fieldfares, a feeding station that looked like Greenfich city, with 23 together squabbling over the feeders plus the usual mix of Blue & Great Tits, Chaffinch, Starling , Reed Bunting, Magpie, Collared Dove etc etc etc. There were at least a 1000 Teal present and 750-800 Lapwings. A single Little Egret circled the reserve that had completely black feet, no yellow could be seen at all.
Good numbers of gulls were still present at Westbere in the morning but viewing conditions were vastly improved from the previous afternoon. Marc was already present when I arrived and looking at an odd looking gull showing signs of a Ring-billed Gull which we concluded was an odd looking 3rd winter Herring Gull. The Grove Ferry crew arrived and Martyn picked out adult Yellow-legged Gull. While we were watching this bird an adult Caspian Gull was located at the rear of the flock. Its small white head with typical long sloping forehead and long thin bill made it easy to locate. We watched the bird on and off for the next three hours and Geoff Burton and Mike Gould sucesssfully twitched it from Swalecliffe. In the meantime at least 2 more Yellow-legged Gulls were located and Norman phoned from Stodmarsh where he had also located an adult Caspian Gull. As we were leaving we found another presumed adult Caspian Gull. Martyn was able to get distant photos of both birds and will no doubt post them later. As well as the star birds there were about 500+ Herring Gulls, 40 Great Black-backs, 10 Lesser Black-backs, 30 Common Gulls and 1,000 Black-headed Gulls. The icy conditions has meant that the Gulls have been easier to observe in recent days, staying around longer and sitting out on the ice instead of being in the water. Nevertheless the proximity of this site to the Canterbury/Broad Oak tip and the huge number of gulls that visit the pits to bathe means that Westbere has the potential to become one of the premier gull sites in the county. So far it has been very under watched. The non gull highlights included yesterday's Goldeneye, a drake Goosander and a mink running around the edge of the lake on the ice
Meeting Alan at the Grove Ferry entrance at 7.00am we proceeded to the Ramp where we had an exciting hour and half (unlike yesterdays birdless fog filled morning) with 2 ringtail Hen Harriers and 9 Marsh harriers (6 in the air together). There were, 148 Mute Swans out, 2 White-fronted Geese over plus 27 White-fronts distantly over Seaton, 1 Dunlin, 101 Golden Plovers 700 Lapwing a Sparrowhawk and a Kestrel .Westerly duck movements included, 3 Tufted Ducks, 1 drake Pintail and 6 Wigeon. Half a dozen Feildfares flew out early and there were 18 Stock Doves and 30 Snipe. Steve arrived just before 9.00 and a phone call from Marc, at Westbere, with a possible Ring-billed gull had the three of us heading to join him. On arrival at Westbere Brendan and Marc were already scanning and a better report of the Gulls is above but, they were 2 Adult Caspian and 2 adult and a sub-adult Yellow-legged Gulls, also there was an adult Herring Gull that had "yellow Legs" as well plus a flyover drake Goosander. Alan and I returned to Grove just before 1.00pm where Steve was in position on the Ramp with the only list additions for the day being, 9 Redshanks, 5 Ruff, 2 Shelducks and a Stonechat. There was also a movement of several hundred Fieldfares distantly viewed near the Blue Bridge. A lot more Lapwings are in the valley again now that the ice is melting so, hopefully the Sociable Plover might be relocated soon.
A frusrating day all round. Thick fog in the morning rendered birding vitually impossible and Martyn, Alan and I ended up stomping along ditches looking for Jack Snipe. Sadly the usual area for this species has become very overgrown, like many areas in the valley and we consequently drew a blank although we did record one Water Pipit. I returned to the valley in the afternoon to indulge in my new winter passion of gull watching, which beats counting duck anyday and might get Caspian Gull onto my Kent list. Viewing conditions at Westbere were not good and the sizeable Gull flock (700+ Herring Gulls) kept disappearing into the mist. In these condisions I was able to pick out two adult Yellow-legged Gulls and another adult gull that seemed to exibit most of the salient features of Caspian Gull. My only hesitation in claiming it was that it seemed to have relatively short legs. John Cantello and I had a similar gull last week which we weren't able to pin down. Alas the mist rolled in at this point and all the gulls departed shortly afterwards. In the small bit of open water at Westbere there were 8 Tufed Duck, one Goldeneye, 9 Gadwall, 3 Great-cr Grebes and one Little Grebe.
Visited Stodmarsh at dusk to check out the harrier roost and recorded 10 Marsh Harriers and one ringtail Hen Harrier. Also present were 800 Mallard on the ice ond one roosting Little Egret. Earlier in the day there were 6 Goldeneye, 159 Tufted Duck,5 Pintail, 2 Shelduck and 3 Marsh Harriers at Collards, 2 Chiffchaffs and a Sparrowhawk at Westbere plus lots of gulls none of which could be strung into a Caspian but its only a matter of time!
No sign of yesterdays Sociable Plover at Grove today, infact not much sign of anything. The pools were all still frozen over and there was a frost on the ground and a fog surrounding the reserve. Marc had 3 Tawny Owls prior to 6.30am and from the ramp with Marc, Steve Ashton, Brendan Ryan, Norman McCanch, Pete Solly and Phil Parker we tried in vain for said Plover, there were not to many Lapwings about either with just a few flying in or out, although a sizeable flock were out of ight on a back pool. The few other birds making the note book today were, 1 Siskin, 2 Corn Buntings, 2 Cetti's Wartblers, 7 Marsh Harriers, 3 Stonechats and a Brambling. Not many Geese but 2 Pink-footed and 13 Barnacle Geese flew towards Reculver early am and there were, 20+ Fieldfare, 8+ Bearded Tits, 2 Water Rails, 25+ Snipe, 2 Shelducks, 1 Redshank, 1 Kestrel and 2 Meadow Pipits. Marc and Brendan left to check Collard's and Westbere adding only a Little Owl at Cow Corner and a Chiffchaff at Westbere. The feeders had the usual mix of finches and Buntings, Starlings, Collared Doves and Tits etc whilst 1 or 2 Foxes were the only non-avian noted.
I spent a few hours this afternoon in the company of a few birders looking for the Plover but with no luck. Most fields were checked in the immediate area and I only hope that it remains around for a few days. With all pools still frozen the following was noted this afternoon: 2 Marsh Harrier, 3 Stonechat, small groups of Fieldfare were moving to roost, c30 Snipe, 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Peregrine was confused that nothing flew up from the frozen main pool, 9 Corn Bunting and the highlight was a Goosander which flew East late afternoon and appeared to drop down by the river. This took my valley year list to 162 species, 3 better than my previous best.
With the intention of checking Westbere and Collard's today for Ducks & Grebes after a quick stop at Grove for Geese/Swans etc, I was halted at Grove with a wader with Sabines Gull like plumage dropping in with the Lapwings. It was of course a Sociable Plover that joined 30 odd Lapwings just before 8 o'clock before taking flight at 8.10 and with the appearance of going to land on a back pool, eventually flew of to the SSE in the general direction of Preston. Although staying at the ramp and scanning the skyline and checking every Lapwing that moved it was not seen again by the time I left at 1.45pm. Not a lot else was noted during this time but what did make the note book is as follows.There was 1 Dunlin, 3 Grey Herons, 32 Eurasian White-fronted Geese, 4 Marsh Harriers, 37+ Snipe, 40+ Golden Plover, 3 Stonechats, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Kestrel, 3 Redshanks, 3 Sparrowhawks, 2 Shelducks and a Pintail west. A single Fieldfare was heard in the dark although several were at the Blue Bridge and 13 Barnacle Geese circled the reserve several times before flying off towards Reculver, genuine in this weather, who knows.
With the Christmas holiday starting yesterday I ventured over to Grove Ferry mid afternoon in misty and cold conditions. All the pools were still frozen over and finding any birds seemed to be a challenge. I noted the following till dusk: 3 Marsh Harrier, 1 ring tail Hen Harrier, 1 Jay, c10 Snipe, 109 Mute Swan with 2 unfortunate birds hitting the power cables on their way back into the reserve. Later I drove around the back and saw 1 Swan sitting in the field, still alive and looking around, hopefully it will make it! Other birds seen: 2 Kestrel, 3 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Dunlin high North, 223 Fieldfare, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Great spotted Woodpecker, 2 Water Rail and an impressive count of 40 Corn Bunting, 1 flock of 38. The usual birds were at the restaurant including, Blue Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Bunting, Robin and Starlings.
A beautifully crisp and clear morning at Grove today. With the lakes well frozen and both the reeds and trees white with frost, there was relatively little activity. However, on the walk to Stodmarsh and back, there were different 3 groups of Beardies (all well hidden) and at least 5 Cetti's Warbler (two of which showed briefly). There was far more activity in the alder wood with Treecreeper, Great and Blue Tit, single Bullfinch and Goldfinch and a flock of 30+ Siskin plus 2-3 Redpoll. On the main lake sat (and stood) a sizeable flock of ducks (c250 Mallard & 100+ Teal). A couple of Water Rail showed themselves and more called. Waders were restricted to a handful flying over and two parties of three birds".
Very different at Grove Ferry/ Stodmarsh today - almost completely frozen over the open waters, so not a Teal in clear view, 3 Lapwings and no other waders.... except a lonely Avocet, sitting in splendid isolation on the ice on the main lake at Stodmarsh, and small flocks of very mobile Snipe. Lots of brief views of Water Rails and the best view of a Bittern for years - right in front of me. Also a handsome male Bullfinch. Throw in a very active pair of Marsh Harriers, two equally active Sparrowhawks, a good smattering of passerines and lovely crisp - if chilly - weather; a very pleasant 3 hours.
I arrived at Grove Ferry at 6.30am this morning with the car temperature telling me it was -2 degrees. I stayed at the ramp for an hour or so and after finally losing the feeling in my fingers again I left for work. The following were logged: 3 Cetti’s Warbler, 2 Water Rail, 2 Ruff, 13 Fieldfare, 125 Cormorant East, 1 Green Woodpecker and 1 Great spotted Woodpecker. The 2 Bewick’s Swans were on the frozen main pool and eventually left South East at 7.50am. 90 Mute Swans flew out towards Sarre, 8 Meadow Pipit, 1 ring tail Hen Harrier, 4 Marsh Harrier, 2 Kestrel and a bonus bird was an obliging Brambling in the feeder trees which showed well for a few minutes before flying off North. Perhaps it will hang around with the finch flock! The feeders held Blue and Great Tits, with Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Reed Bunting for company.
In finger numbing temperatures which made my notebook writing look like a 2 year olds, I had about an hour at the ramp. Not that much to mention but the following was translated from the book: 213 Fieldfare, 1 Shelduck, 4 Snipe, 3 Marsh Harrier, 3 Dunlin, 1 Redshank, 1 Kestrel, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 100 Mute Swan into roost, c20 Corn Bunting flew low East past the ramp in the fading light, 1 Grey Heron and 2 Cetti's Warbler.
Pete and I counted 96 Mute Swans out of the reserve this morning before Brendan and John Hollyer arrived and then later Steve Ashton. Recorded at Grove today were, 1 Shelduck, 8 Marsh Harriers, 32 White-fronted Geese, 3 Fieldfares, 67 Golden Plovers, 7 Ruff, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Kestrel, 3 Siskins west and the two adult Bewick's Swans out at 8.15. There were 2 Stonechats, 1 Bittern, 4 Grey Herons, 18 Snipe and a male Sparrowhawk. The feeders were pretty much as yesterday but with the addition of 7 Collared Doves and noticably more Chaffinches. Brendan left to check out Collard's while Pete & John left for home. Steve and I moved over to Stodmarsh, were we met Phil Parker, to look for Siskins in the Alder Wood. Although some were located they were all high up and distant but there was at least one Lesser Redpoll with them. The main lake was fairly dead with just 6 Tufted Ducks and 2 Pochards of note. Other bits of note around the wooded areas were several Long-tailed Tits, Blue & Great Tits, Chaffinches and several Robins. There were 5 Red-legged Partridges on the side of the road as I drove out of Stodmarsh. At Collard's Brendan noted 96 Tufted Ducks and 5 Goldeneye.
Meeting Marc at the entrance gate at 6.30 this morning with Marc having already scoured the valley for Owls since about 9.00pm last night (lol) with just two Tawny Owls to note down, 1 seen and 1 heard. We had a quiet few hours at Grove noting 3 Grey Herons, 1 ringtail Hen Harrier, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 2 Wigeon, 12 Ruff, 32 White-fronted Geese and two Bewick's Swans out in the dark (Marc heard them) plus 83 Mute Swans also left for pasture. There was a single Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Marsh Harriers (4 males), 1 Shelduck, 3 Fieldfare, 1 Kingfisher, 1 Corn Bunting, 57 Golden Plovers and several hundred Lapwing and Teal. The feeding station had 11 Magpies, several Greenfinch and Reed Buntings a couple of Chaffinches, 1 Robin, 3 Dunnocks plus Blue Tits and Starlings. There were 9 Redshanks, 2 Kestrels 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Little Egret, 11 Snipe and a very smart immature female Peregrine added before we both moved over to Westbere for Gulls. At Westbere there were several thousand Gulls with almost a 50/50 split of Herring and Black-headed with four or five Great Black-backs and half a dozen Commons. Nothing out of the ordinary though and certaintly no sign ofTuesdays Kittiwake, Marc Left and I made my way to Collard's were Brendan was already in position. On Collard's there were 141 Tufted Ducks and 11 Goldeneye (2 adult & a 1/st winter drake), a Marsh Harrier hunting Coots and a large selection of Gulls with white-headed individuals confusing the pants of us. A telephone call from Dylan to inform us of a Scaup sp at Seaton meant we left the recording area to look for a possible Lesser Scaup but we had no luck in finding it or the redhead Smew that was there but, we did see 3 (2 drakes) Goldeneye.
Another day playing truant from work, and I spent the whole day in the valley, starting at Cow corner, where the Little Owl was seen, deep in an Oak Tree, managing to get a photo through the morning gloom. A cock Pheasant was present, along with Crows and Jackdaws. I moved on to Grove ferry, and watched 2 Green Woodpeckers as I entered the reserve. I spent a couple of hours in the Turf field hide, where the obligatory Kingfisher photo was taken, but cursed as I missed an opportunity to snap a fly by Bittern, which flew from right to left, across the middle of the pool. Mallard and Teal were on the pool, and 2 Stonechats were seen. I then had 2 hours on the ramp, longer than I usually stay, as I was waiting for the 32 White-fronted geese, which were feeding in the field to the left of the viewing ramp, to work there way into view, so that I could try and photograph them. Eventually they did, allowing some shots to be taken, although the light had diminished by then. There were 2 Ruff feeding with the lapwing in the field as well, and a Little Egret was seen being harassed by a Grey Heron. A kestrel was watched, hovering behind the ramp, descending rapidly to the reeds, and leaving with a hapless rodent in its talons. It settled in a tree in the Paddock, and ate lunch. The main pool held numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover, which were for ever being disturbed by hunting Marsh Harriers. It was quality rather than quantity today, with a superb looking Song Thrush posing for photo’s as I entered the Grove ferry reserve. Something of a rarity nowadays.
With an already dark sky at 3.15pm, I had about an hour at the ramp tonight at Grove Ferry. The following made the notebook: 4 Redshank, 7 Ruff, 1 Great spotted Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker, 3 Marsh Harrier, 289 Fieldfare, 1 Shelduck, 1 Pied Wagtail, c260 Golden Plover, 1 Bullfinch, 1 Black tailed Godwit and 79 Mute Swans into roost.
After last week's 70 species noted, I decided to see if it was beatable and also to pin point certain species for the new year that may be a challenge. Most corners of the valley were visited and a creditable 80 species were noted, not at all bad for mid December. A list of the birds seen follows: Little Grebe, Great crested Grebe, Cormorant, 1 Bittern at Westbere lakes, 1 Little Egret, Grey Heron, 61 Mute Swan, 32 White fronted Geese, Greylag Geese, Mallard, Gadwall, 1 drake Pintail, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, 3 Goldeneye, 1 drake on Collards, 6 Marsh Harrier, 1 ring tail Hen Harrier, 2 Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Pheasant, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, 42 Golden Plover, Lapwing, 1 Dunlin, 1 Black tailed Godwit, Snipe, 7 Ruff, Black headed Gull, Common Gull, 1 adult Mediterranean Gull on Westbere Lake, Herring Gull, Lesser black backed Gull, Great black backed Gull, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, 1 Little Owl, 2 Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Stonechat, Song Thrush, Redwing, 2 Mistle Thrush, c400 Fieldfare, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, 1 Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Bearded Tit, Long tailed Tit, Treecreeper, Magpie, Jay, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Lesser Redpoll, c60 Siskin, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and 25 Corn Bunting into roost at Grove Ferry. A few species were missed including Redshank, Grey Wagtail, Bewick's Swan and Pink footed Goose but overall a very enjoyable mission.
Managed to get to the ramp just after 2pm and stayed until 3:30ish. Highlights: 2 Ruff 2 Black-tailed Godwits 15+ Snipe 32 White fronted Geese, 1 Hen Harrier (ringtail) 6 Marsh Harrier, Female Sparrowhawk, Golden Plovers, Lapwings. Lovely evening - much better than shopping!
As sunshine and bright crisp mornings are becoming rarer and rarer these days, I decided to finish work early today, 10 minutes after I started. Theirs plenty of time for work. I telephoned Mike Gould, and I met him in the Turf field hide. I Noted chaffinch, Greenfinch, Blue and Great Tits along the entrance path, along with 9 Magpies. The main pool from the viewing ramp was a sheet of ice, and all that was noted was 7 Greylag Geese, 2 Shell Duck, 4 Redshank and 10 Black-headed Gulls. The feeders were busy, with all the usual visitors in attendance. On arrival at the Turf field hide, Mike was taking photos of a few Black-headed gulls, and as with the ramp pool, the water had frozen over night. 2 Mallard were present, the Kingfisher landed on his post, and a wren kept us amused for 5 minutes. We decided to drive to Stodmarsh, and check out the Siskin flock in the Alder wood, photographing a female Stonechat by the paddock on the way out, and noting high numbers of Fieldfares along the orchard edges as we made our way to the car park on the Stodmarsh reserve. There was a sizeable flock of Siskin’s in the wood, and 4 or 5 Lesser Redpolls were picked out, and a solitary Goldcrest and Tree creeper was seen. Long-tailed Tits were fairly numerous, as were Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Goldfinches. At least 4 Great-spotted Woodpeckers were noted, and 15 minutes in the Reed bed hide produced a Common Snipe feeding in the cut reeds, A Great Black-backed Gull on the raft on the main pool and a distant Marsh Harrier, bringing the Marsh Harrier total for the day to 3. Mike left and all I added to our list was another Goldcrest, 2 more Tree creepers and a little Owl was sitting on the fallen log by Cow corner, basking in the afternoon sun.
We carried out the WeBS count for Westbere Lake on a beautiful sunny morning for once. The Coot population continued to rise with a total of 260 birds present, but 66 Tufted Duck and 8 Gadwall represented almost the total duck population. There were only 17 Great Crested Grebes but the surprise of the day was a Kittiwake which stayed all day and was still there at dusk, presumably injured or unwell.
28 Mute Swans were on the lake itself with over 200 Greylags and 15 Canada Geese in the fields across the river. One of the Greylags was ‘taken for the pot’ while we were watching. Other sightings included 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 3 Kingfishers, a Marsh Harrier and 67 Lapwing. There were also hundreds of Black-headed and Herring Gulls but their habit of constantly flying round and settling on the water, only to fly up again made them extremely difficult to count with any accuracy. There also seemed to be plenty of small birds such as Wrens, Robins, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinches etc. A total of 43 species were seen altogether.
(Sue Morton and Pauline McKenzie Lloyd)
On a freezing afternoon I made an hour visit to the ramp at Grove Ferry after work. Not that much around but I logged the following until dusk: The 32 Eurasion White fronted Geese were present in the field next to the ramp, 5 Redshank, c600 Lapwing, 2 Black tailed Godwit, 11 Ruff, 36 Mute Swan, 1 Marsh Harrier, 28 Fieldfare, 13 Corn Buntings flew over the ramp calling towards Stodmarsh, 1 Kingfisher, c60 Golden Plover, 2 Meadow Pipit and the usual birds at the dining area.
Another day of dodging heavy rain showers with the occasional sunny spell and some good birding in great company. Today at Grove were, 32 White-fronted Geese, 7 Marsh Harriers, 4 Redshanks, 3 Water Rails, 1 Kingfisher, 2 Bewick's Swans and 27 Snipe. There were, 248 Golden Plovers, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Ruff, 1 Dunlin, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Hen Harrier and 1 Pink-footed Goose. There was 1 Stonechat, 1 Kestrel, 2 Cetti's Warblers, 32 Black-headed Gulls and 3 Fieldfares while the feeders had all the usual species. A quick look at Collard's had a large flock of Gulls in the fields between the lake and the road and there were 1 Marsh Harrier and 47 Tufted Ducks on the lake, no sign of any Goldeneye but the rain forced an early exit so I was unable to do a full scan of th area.
(Martyn Wilson, Steve Ashton & Sue Morton)
Despite the weather closing in quite early today, a few good birds were seen. At Grove Ferry today were, 6 Tawny and 1 Little Owl, 1 Pink-footed and 32 White-fronted Geese and 2 Bewick's Swans. There were, 9 Marsh Harriers, 8 Ruff, 1 Bittern, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1+ Kingfisher and a ringtail Hen Harrier that but on a fantastic display on two seperate occasions. Also today were, 18 Snipe, 2 Stonechats, 90 Golden Plovers, 1 Great-spotted and 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Dunlin, 1 Kesrel, 5 Stock Doves and 9 Redshank (the highest count this year!!!). There were, 6 Long-tailed Tits, 14 Siskins south, 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Little Egret, 2 Grey Herons, 1 Pochard and 2 Cetti's Warblers plus 1 or 2 of each Redwing and Fieldfare. Non avian seen by Marc in the twilight hours were, 1 Badger and 2 Foxes.
(Martyn Wilson, Marc Heath, Steve Ashton, Norman McCanch & Phil Parker)
With the new year just around the corner I decided to see how many species were on offer in the valley today. Surprisingly 70 species were seen or heard which considering the terrible rain and wind for long periods of the day, made a good total. All the usual species were seen but some 'easy' species were missed, these included to name a few: Bearded Tit, Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Water Rail, Pied Wagtail and Kingfisher. On the positive side some bonus birds were happily seen which included Dunlin, Black tailed Godwit, Hen Harrier, 2 Bewick's Swan, 1 Pink footed Goose and 32 White fronted Geese. If these birds continue to hang around then 80+ species is again a reachable target.
My first visits this month saw me arriving at dawn for an hour and again after work for an hour until dark. All the time was spent on the ramp with the following noted in the morning visit: 32 White fronted Geese flew out of the back pool departing East, 49 Mute Swan, 5 Fieldfare, 1 probable Pink footed Goose left early morning with the Greylag Geese, 1 Water Rail, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 1 Grey Heron and 2 Marsh Harrier. 2 Dunlin were on the main pool, 13 Ruff, 9 Redshank, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 30 Golden Plover, 1 Bullfinch and 2 adult Bewick's Swans towards Sarre at 7.43am. I returned after work, again to the ramp and noted 61 Golden Plover, 13 Ruff, 2 Dunlin, 44 Mute Swan into roost, c1000 Lapwing, 1 Redshank, 13 Snipe, 7 Meadow Pipit, 1 Marsh Harrier, 1 Black tailed Godwit, 1 Little Egret, 32 White fronted Geese dropped in behind the boat house, 1 Sparrowhawk, c650 Teal and the usual suspects on the feeders making the most of the dining area. A Bittern and 2 Green Sandpipers were also reported by other birders from Harrisons hide.
Most of the Greylags left just before any real light emerged with at least one bird being blasted out of the sky just yards from the reserve by grown men with shotguns! The 32 White-fronted Geese flew out ay 7.07 towards Sarre Penn, thus avoiding any potential death or injury, 39 Mute Swans flew out and the 2 adult Bewick's Sawns were on the Green Hide pool until 8.00 when they left towards Preston. A ringtail Hen Harrier flew over the ramp and out to Sarre at 7.28 and there were, 3 Shelduck, 3 Redshank, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Tufted Dck, 138 Golden Plovers and 3 Marsh Harriers. Also there were, 3 Grey Herons, 1 Dunlin, 1 Pied Wagtail, 1 Cetti's Warbler, 10 Snipe, 1 Green Woodpecker and a drake Wigeon flew west low over the ramp. At the feeders were, Starlings, Magpies, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Reed Buntings, Blue & Great Tits and a Blackbird. Cow Corner had 600+ Herring Gulls, 27 Great Black-backed Gulls and 5 Common Gulls and Collard's had a similar count as yesterday with just 1 duck Goldeneye located, 26 Tufted Ducks, 1 Marsh Harrier and a flock of Gulls on the Fields in front that contained Great Black-backed, Herring and Black-headed with just 2 Lesser Black-backs. Although I pulled into Stodmarsh and was getting prepared, I never actually got any birding done as the weather finally gave out and I went home in heavy rain.
Starting at dawn with Phil Parker who was after seeing the two Bewick's, we watched as several hundred presumed Greylag Geese left in the early half light but no sign of any small 'Pink-foot' type Geese although 32 Eurasian White-fronted Geese did vacate early. There was no sign of the two Bewick's Swans today. Also recorded at Grove Ferry today were, 1 Shelduck, 42 Golden Plovers, 2 Marsh Harriers, 4 Reshank, 2 Ruff, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Dunlin. There were, 34 Snipe, 2 Cetti's Warblers, and 1 Grey Heron. We met Norman McCanch on the ramp where we chatted for a while before Phil and I left to have a look at Collard's. At first look on Collard's there was not much out of the ordinary but well over a thousand Black-headed Gulls, 200+ Wigeon and 1500+ Coots. Phil left for home while I went to Cow Corner for Gulls. There were only, 180 Herring Gulls, 6 Great Black-backed Gulls and 1 Common Gull, while back at Collard's there were 2 Goldeneye (1 drake), and a Marsh Harrier. There was a small gathering of Gulls in the fields behind the houses in Stodmarsh village and they were, 14 Common Gulls, 23 Great Black-backed Gulls and 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull whilst at Stodmarsh reserve, where I met up with Norman McCanch again, there were at least 30 Siskins in the Alder Wood as well as 1 Lesser Redpoll, 1 Goldcrest, 2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers, 1 Green Woodpecker and several Chaffinches and Tits. On the lake were 150 Tufted Ducks, 44 Pochards, 1 female Pintail and a Lesser Black-backed Gull over. There was 1 Jay, 1 Marsh Harrier and several Fieldfare and Redwings dotted about. I left at just before midday, leaving the reserve with Steve Ashton who had been in the Reedbed Hide with his camera.